Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on the occasion of International Widows Day today called for change of mindset for uplifting the widows facing "deprivation" in the country.
He asked the government to focus on providing livelihood skills to widows and facilitate education of their children to empower them and end the "life shattering emptiness and void" faced by millions of such women.
"Two things are important including societal change of mindset and adopting this social cause as a mission for uplifting condition of widows," Naidu said at an International Widows Day organised by Loomba Foundation.
The concept of New India encompasses economically emancipated women. If that vision is realised, many of the social ills like atrocities on women and neglect of widows can become a thing of the past, he said.
The vice president appealed the government, civil society and private sector to join hands to give "preferential treatment" to children of widows in education.
"We as a society need to reflect on the social attitudes towards widows and how the stigma, humiliation and isolation attached to widowhood can be overcome,"
On the occasion, Union Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said his ministry will take "decisive intervention in favour of the rights of the widows," referring to a case concerning welfare of widows being heard by the Supreme Court.
The minister also favoured empowering the widows through digital literacy initiatives and asserted that their welfare can not be ensured unless it is taken up as a movement.
Loomba Foundation president Cherie Blair said that justice for widows is yet not achieved and appealed the society to stand with them.
The Loomba Foundation's founder chairman Raj Loomba demanded the Government of India to consider setting up a national commission for widows besides giving preferential treatment to them in employment opportunities.
A woman from Jaipur, Priyanka Yadav, who was widowed at the age of 16, was presented a Rs one lakh cheque by the vice president on behalf of the foundation.